buff.ly/2xHgS3p

Weasel in Hospital

25 June 2012

This morning Joy was seated on her plastic crate. Andre was standing next to her. I pulled up an extra crate and sat beside Joy.

“Hi Andre!” I said, “how was your weekend?”

“My weekends are always good. Every day is good. I’m just a carefree, happy guy. I’ve already made my price and enough for another (bottle). I don’t know why the Sally let me in last night — I was so drunk. I made my price, downed it, made my price again, downed that too. I was staggering from one side of the walk to the other.”

Joy said, “I saw you last night. I said to you, “Where’s the real Andre? I don’t think you knew your own name.

“It’s good that you left Hippo and Little Jake on their own. It’ll show them how much they depend on you to get drops.”

“Yeah, Jake works hard, but he’s got to open up more. Hippo does nothing. He has his legs straight out and his cup between them. People have to step over his legs to make a drop. Some people resent panhandlers taking up so much room on the sidewalk, especially when the walking traffic is heavy.

“I also try not to let people see me smoke. I’ll hide the cigarette behind a column or behind my back. If they think I can afford to smoke, they think I can afford to eat. I was panning with a guy one time. He kept checking his iPad. A woman was ready to drop him a five when she heard the guy’s iPhone ring. He pulled it out to answer it and the woman stuffed the bill back in her purse. She said, ‘I can’t afford an iPad or an iPhone. You’re better off than I am.’ ”

Joy said, “I keep telling Roy not to phone me here. He’ll ask, ‘What are you doing?’ I’ll say, ‘What do you think I’m doing? You’re spoiling my business, phone me back after nine.’ It’s not that he has anything to say, maybe, ‘If you see Buck, pick me up some cigarettes.’ ”

Andre said, “Well, I have to go.”

“Are you going to work?” I asked.

“No, I’m going on a run for Joy. Then I’ll go to the park. After that, I’ll go to work on Queen in front of the grocery store.

“I’ll see you later at the park.”

I said. “Take care, Andre.”

I asked Joy, “Did you work things out with Nick, for a place to stay?”

“No, I’m going to stay with Chester. I spent the weekend there. He’s still upset about Mary leaving him. He’s kind of let things go. I spent most of Saturday cleaning. He has a beautiful place. I sleep on a pull out couch in the living room.

“Sunday we just took it easy. I had some money, so I bought chicken. We had it with Kraft Dinner. Chester’s quiet. I like that. We just had a few drinks, a few joints. It was nice.

“When I got to Chuck’s place this morning all I could smell was V. There’s nothing worse than the smell of a wet dog.

“Chuck had a bunch of people over for the weekend: Nicholas and Corrine, Catherine and Nick, and Chili. All the food I bought last week was gone, and the place was a mess. I told him I was leaving. He said, ‘You’ll be sorry.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be sorry alright. Sorry to have extra food in the fridge.  Sorry to have extra money and cigarettes.’ ”

This afternoon was cool and windy. Near the park, I saw a police cruiser and an ambulance. I thought the worst. Chili was walking down the sidewalk, so I asked her, “Is the ambulance for anyone we know?”

“No,“ she replied, “I don’t know who it’s for. None of us.”

On the lawn were the usual people and Shaggy.

Loretta  approached and asked, “Dennis, can you spare me some bus tickets. I have to go to the hospital. It’s because of the car accident I was in a few months ago. I’m going to see a plastic surgeon. He’s going to do more work on my face and my knee. As soon as my gums finish healing, I’ll be getting a pair of dentures.”

“Sure Loretta,” I said, “Here are some bus tickets.”

“Thank you so much.”

Wolf came over to me. I tentatively reached out to shake his bruised hand. “It’s okay now, we can shake hands, the swelling has mostly gone. You can still see Bear’s teeth marks on my wrist.

“Dennis, would you do me a big favor. I’ve been looking after Bear since the police took Weasel to the hospital. The thing is, I just don’t know what to do with her. I haven’t heard from Weasel. I’ve asked people here, with phones, to check on him at the East General. He hasn’t any friends. Nobody will make the call. Will you phone the hospital and see if he’s still in there. If he is, try to find out if, or when, he’s getting out. If he’s been moved, try to find out where he is. Will you do that for me?”

“Sure, Wolf.”

“I’ve cleaned my balcony and Bear’s staying out there. She really made a stinking mess, but I cleaned that. She has a big pail of water to drink and she’s used to living outdoors. Of course, when it is really hot I bring her inside. Stella likes Bear and she’ll take her to the farm, if that’s what Weasel wants. I’ve taken good care of her, but when I tried to attach her leash, to take her for a walk, she bit my hand. I’m only starting to gain use of it again. I can’t leave her alone with Shaggy, because they don’t get along. Shaggy is eleven years old. Bear could kill her. I don’t want that to happen.”

“I understand, Wolf. I’ll phone the hospital and see what I can find out. I’ll let you know any news tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Dennis. I really appreciate that.”

“How’ve you been, Norman?”

“It’s Gaston, but that’s okay.”

“I probably called you Norman last Friday. I’m sorry, my memory for names isn’t very reliable.”

“I understand. I’m the same way. Often, I’ll be in the middle of a conversation before the person’s name comes to me. The message is more important than the name. That’s been my experience. I study communication with people. I teach communication with people. If I could, I’d study at the university all my life. I’d love that.

“I also like working with people – sometimes at the Mission, sometimes at the HIV Clinic, sometimes here. What I’ve learned about homeless people, alcoholics and drug addicts is that they’re not always connected to their true selves. They put up barriers. They lose control. A few beer or a few glasses of wine will give you a small buzz, but you’re still in control. Drinking more than that — it’s the alcohol controlling you, not you controlling the alcohol. It’s used to get away from memories that are painful. Memories of abuse and neglect. I’ve suffered from abuse and neglect.

“I went through years of university on heroin. I used very small quantities to give me a lift; just a pinch here, a pinch there. I’ve never come close to overdosing on drugs. Are you familiar with what an 8-ball is? It’s an eighth of an ounce of cocaine. I’ve seen people do an entire 8-ball.

”There is an article in the paper about homelessness. They’re going about it all wrong. Instead of dealing with the problem they spend more and more money to inconvenience the homeless. This is a public park. The police have no right to ask us to move. Look how much time and money they put into that. What we need is more support for addiction facilities, better sleeping accommodations for the homeless, more access to food. I analyse all these things and try to come to some sort of resolution. Then I write about it.”

On my way back to work I saw Serge sitting in the bus shelter. “How are you doing, Serge? I see your eyes are black, did someone beat you?”

“It happened right over there, where that man or woman is sitting. My shoelace was too long. I fell on the sidewalk.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Are you feeling better now?”

“I’m fine. I’ve fallen before.”

I phoned the East General Hospital. By telling them I was Weasel’s brother, Wolf, they put me through to him. I said, “Hi Weasel, Wolf asked me to give you a call. He was wondering how you were doing, when you are getting out and what to do with Bear.”

“Tell Wolf I’m getting out right now. I’ll be home in twenty minutes.”

“I’ll tell him that. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well, Weasel. It was good speaking with you.”

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.